Saturday, June 13, 2009

An unexpected anniversary

Today, I woke up to a beautiful day in Montreal. As luck would have it, I will be visiting a friend's chalet up north which should make the day exceptional.

A couple of things that happened together this morning put me in a thinking mode on milestones and our fascination with milestones.

Reading through my e-mails, I received one of those "what I have learned from the years" from one of my relatives. I also received an agenda planner that reminded me that today is my first job's work anniversary. I also received a comment on the post I made on Paolo Coehlo. Paolo is someone who asks that you reflect at the signs around you. This combination of minor events coupled with recent invitations to milestone birthdays got me thinking.

It has been twenty years since I got my first position in a company. Since then, there has been many changes to my career and profession and the many ups and downs of life. I have been blessed with health, a great family and many friends who are walking along the path with me. Twenty years? is that half way through? or two thirds of the way? What does it mean to have worked for 20 years relative to all the other milestones in a person's life?

A couple of days ago, I read an article on The Miracle of Turning 40 and how the chances of reaching 40 are slim in some countries. Constrast that with a 40 year career we expect (or for some of us may be forced to have given the economic conditions).

In the Middle East, there is a fascination with the "next" milestone. While celebrating an occasion for a milestone, many Middle Easterns will wish you the best for the next milestone. For example, after graduating from highschool, the person will be wished well for their university graduation, then marriage, children and then their children's milestones.

In Microsoft Project, you can set a milestone by giving a task a "zero" duration. Interesting to note the attention executives place on these zero duration activities. In general, more attention is given to the milestone than all the challenges it took to get there.

Reflections to keep my mind busy on my drive towards the next milestone.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dog doo and the global meltdown

Walking with my children a couple of evenings ago, we saw an older lady stoop over to pick up her dog's doo with a little plastic bag. Reflecting on it, I started wondering if it is an act of love or was there anything else behind the act

Then the image of me, in Paris circa 1982, walking with my head lowered down to scan my steps to avoid walking into doo popped into my head. At the time, if one did not pay enough attention to the placement of their steps, it was extremely likely that they would end with doo all over their shoe.

I do not believe that our older Canadian lady loves her dog any more than the legions of dog owners in Paris. Dogs seemed to be well loved in Paris as I recalled mentioning to my friends after the trip that I saw more dogs than kids in Paris.

Then the word "regulation" lighted up in my mind. The difference between Montreal and Paris '82 is due to laws in place that fine dog owners for not picking up after their beloved dogs.

This led me to surmise that the global meltdown in part was a result of under regulation. Adding to the greed was an attitude of "Après
moi la déluge" which ended costing us all a lot more than those who did the decisions.

My apologies to the residents of Paris. Maybe by now, you have put some laws in place to protect those tourists who like to look up and enjoy the scenery. A thank you goes to the older lady who got me thinking and sorry if I misjudged your love.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Some of Paulo Coelho's quotes

This is an experiment to see if the code works. the quotations are classic Coelho.

You can flip pages and read different quotations...

Which one resonates with you?

Friday, March 06, 2009

A question of taste (on Orange Juice and Marketing)?

A couple of months ago, I had a (lightly) charged discussion with a good friend on Orange Juice. Specially, my belief that most boxed orange juices (including my favorite Tropicana Orange Juice) had to have some form of (artificial) flavoring added. My view was that to get a consistent taste year round, the companies had to resort to additives such as flavoring.

My friend's reply centered on the "100% Pure & Natural" labeling and the ingredients which are described as "100% freshly squeezed oranges". My friend insisted that there cannot be additives in there without the companies disclosing them.

This is where Alissa Hamilton comes is to shed some light on the topic in her Q&A interview in the Boston Globe on her upcoming book "Squeezed: What You Don't Know About Orange Juice," due out in May from Yale University Press.

...Orange Juice is not what it is portrayed to be. Consumers have a right to know what they are consuming...

A couple of key points:

  • The juice is heated and it's oxygen is removed to avoid oxidation,
  • the flavor is stripped from it,
  • it is stored for up to a year (so much for freshness!),
  • At packaging time, companies such as Firmenich are brought in to add the flavor back through flavoring packs.
Flavor packs add "flavor, texture and sensation" to provide "a focus on freshness, authenticity and naturalness" (my interpretation through Firmenich's site).

Alisa states that these flavoring packs are "technically made from orange-derived substances, essence and oils. Flavor companies break down the essence and oils into individual chemicals and recombine them". Is that considered natural?

This brings us to the issue of labelling. What is juice? what is natural? what is fresh? The nature of marketing is such that each word on the label conjures images for consumers that may or may not reflect what is really inside the box. It seems that the FDA had a couple of run-ins with the juice industry (Juice Label Rule Asked By F.D.A. -1991, Labeling of Juice Products -1998 - could not really understand it from a first glance). If someone has more up to date (and readable) articles, I would appreciate getting them.

Friedrich Nietzsche once said All of life is a dispute over taste and tasting. In this particular case, a discussion on the taste of something as ubiquitous as orange juice revealed much more than what meets the eyes.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Communicating via Web 2.0 - the McKinsey & Company view

Two weekends ago, I sat down with a Non-For-Profit I am involved in to discuss a communications plan. We discussed many different topics including the communications channel.

I wish I had the following presentation at the time to walk the group through it. All is not lost though, as the discussion shall continue.

It shows clearly how Web 2.0 could be harnessed internally and externally. The interesting part is that I got this via Twitter even thought I get McKinsey & Company updates via e-mail. Thus, McKinsey & Company are following the strategy they have proposed.

For a Non-For-Profit, it all starts with the organization having a high level of credibility and trust. Based on it, the right people within the community should be involved to provide value added contributions.